The Greek island of Santorini is known internationally for it’s beauty, so it gets tons of tourists every year. Now, officials on the island have officially banned “obese” tourists weighing over 220 pounds from riding local donkeys after public outcry from animal rights activists.
It all started back in July, when animal rights group Help the Santorini Donkey started a petition calling for this ban after it was revealed that an increasing number of obese tourists have been demanding donkey rides up the steep hill of Santorini, rather than just walk up. Santorini is a popular cruise ship destination, and these ships dock at the very bottom of the hill.
The overweight tourists have left the donkeys with severe spinal injuries, with some of them even becoming crippled.
“The holiday season on islands is now a lot longer than it used to be, meaning that the donkeys are pretty much working the whole year round,” said Christina Kaloudi, founder of the Santorini Animal Welfare Association.
During the peak tourists season between May and October, it’s estimated that 1,000 tourists come to Santorini every day, and donkeys end up going up and down the cobbled steps of the town four to five times. Greek Ministry of Rural Development and Food just announced a new list of rules to protect the donkeys of Santorini. On top of the ban on people weighing over 220 pounds riding them, the other rules include:
– The owners of working donkeys should ensure that the animals’ level of health is high, with disinfection materials available in their living quarters and workstations.
– Under no circumstances should donkeys be used if they are unfit for work i.e., ill animal, injured, animals in an advanced pregnancy as well as animals with poor maintenance of hooves.
– The animals should be given appropriate and adequate food and fresh drinking water daily, into containers which cannot be contaminated and are cleaned at least once daily.
– Working equines should not be loaded with excessive weight for their size, age or physical condition. The load cannot exceed the weight of 220 pounds, or one-fifth of their body weight.
Animal rights activists are celebrating this change.
“It’s a very big step, I think all our hard work has paid off,” who Elisavet Chatzi, who protested in Santorini. “The situation in Santorini has been going on for many years and it cannot be resolved in one day. No one could ever believe that new regulations would be set.”